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May 19, 2016

Marble has been coveted the world over, ever since it was first discovered. With a variety of beautiful hues combined with qualities of strength and durability, marble has been and continues to be, a go-to building material for the rich and powerful. Even now, it is seen as a luxury, but as it comes back into fashion, we take a look at how it has been used in architecture across the world.

Taj Mahal, India

One of the most famous and recognisable buildings on this list, the Taj Mahal is an incredible mausoleum made of marble. Considered one of the greatest architectural achievements in Indo-Islamic culture, it required the work of craftsmen from across the empire. Marble is used for the domes and towers that make the Taj Mahal so recognisable. The marble inside is highly polished and inlaid with precious stones and materials. It was built as a tribute to the emperor’s favourite wife – and what a tribute it is!

The Pantheon, Rome

A Roman temple dedicated to all the gods in the heart of Rome, the Pantheon boasts beautiful marble floors and walls. The floor features geometric designs, and can still be visited in its original form, although there has been some restoration involved in retaining its grandiose appearance. Marble used to feature on the exterior of the building too, but much of this was stripped away when a Pope decided to melt down all the bronze in the city.

Marble Arch, London

A 19th-century landmark, Marble Arch was originally designed to be the state entrance to Buckingham Palace, though it was later moved when the palace was extended. Marble-plated, it’s beautiful colouring soon became discoloured by the pollution of Victorian London. The rooms inside the arch were used as a police station from 1851 to 1968.

Marble Boat, Beijing

Also known as the Boat of Purity and Peace, the Marble Boat is actually a pavilion on the grounds of the Summer Palace in Beijing. It is designed to look like a western-style stone steam boat, but it is actually made of wood, and painted to imitate marble. It was originally constructed in 1755 but was later burned down. Empress Dowager Cixi had it rebuilt in a western style, using funds she had embezzled from the navy.

Sheikh Zayed Mosque, United Arab Emirates

This immense mosque is a key place of worship for the whole of the United Arab Emirates. Finished in 2007, it is designed to unite the Muslim world, and it can be visited by more than 41,000 people during the celebration of Eid. The courtyard has what’s considered to be the largest example of marble mosaic in the world. There are 96 columns in the main prayer hall and they are all marble-clad and inlaid with mother of pearl.

The Washington Monument

The world’s tallest stone structure, the Washington Monument is made up of 36,000 marble stones. It changes colour part way up too because the quarry used to source the marble was changed in the middle of construction.

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